Lièvre à la Royale.

Enjoyed this old très French main course this past Friday, the 13th December 2019 - very apt from the French hunting season. It’s called “lièvre à la royale” (hare in the royal style), a game dish that requires a few days’ preparation, involving, among many others, winter truffles, bacon, cognac, hare’s blood (for the sauce).
There are several theories of its true origin, none of which are truly verifiable; but, the two most written appear to be:

  1. It was created by King Louis XIV’s chef because said king was fond of game dishes; but, due to his bad/weak teeth, needed one easily chewed; and,

  2. It was always an old, traditional dish which gained fame after being “royaled up” by the famous chef, Antonin Carême, sometime in the early 19th century.

It’s not for everyone (one must enjoy game to begin with); but I, my family & several friends love it.

Seems like a great dish for cold weather!
Which wine did you have with it, and how did it pair?

Yes, it’s a cold weather, game/hunting season dish in France. I tried it with all three depicted reds, which were all pretty acceptable pairings. That said, I normally pair CdP with lièvre à la royale - a CdP preferably with a bit of raunchiness, that is.

I have had it once. That’s enough. Very earthy, almost dirty in flavor. I had trouble eating it.

Foie gras, black truffles (Tuber Melanosporum) … a must with also a Chave Cathelin 1991 … [cheers.gif]

We enjoyed lièvre à la royale Friday evening as the conclusion of the tasting menu at Restaurant David Toutin in Paris. The chef put his modern, thoughtful stamp on it - and it was absolutely sublime! Earthy, gamey, bloody hare hurried in creamy potato. Apparently this holiday time of year some of the top chef’s in France enjoy serving this - perhaps in a little bit of friendly competition. We enjoyed a Bouchard L’Enfant Jesus 2009 with it, which was a delightful match.

That has been my understanding. The French chefs who make the dish here in Manila do so during the French hunting season which usually starts in the last 3-4 months of the year, and lasts 4-5 months (depending on what the respective regulators decide). I’ve also always figured that, aside from it being official hunting/game season, it’s more because the (allowed) game animals are already nice and fat having chowed down in preparation for the cold, lean winter months.

Well, as I wrote, it’s not for everyone. Game really tastes a lot different from farm raised in general. Not to mention the blood in the sauce.

I think #2 is most likely. I have no authority I only say it because classical technique is fairly recent so then it would have been a traditional dish where only royal servants would have access to both the basis and the additional ingredients necessary.

Really interesting, thanks for sharing!

There are two completely different versions of this dish, one a rich stew and the other the boned and stuffed version referred to here. Both can be magnificent and utterly perfect with very grand old burgundy, so inevitably at least one renowned chef has served both versions on the same plate.

^ The original recipe as I remember it calls for a full bottle of Chambertin to prepare the sauce. Add the black truffles (melanosporum) for like 40g per person and this dish puts you north of 2 grands for 6 guests.

It is true that Lièvre à la royale made a come back a few years back, but I’m not sure how many restaurants really propose a full version (loads of truffles, foie gras, …)
On a side note, another old recipe that is pretty hot these days and made around xmas time is L’Oreiller de la belle Aurore". A pâté en croûte with a bunch of meats where the challenge is to have them all at each slice.


That just assumed a spot on my bucket list.

Wow, I have never heard of either, or the L’Oreiller de la belle Aurore!

They all sound amazing.

Only had it once. It was complicated dish. The chef probably helped. Anne-Sofie Pic made it for us right before she got her 3rd star.
My friends had spent a week around the millenium and rented the entire place plus Anne-Sofie’s staff out. She made it as a sort of thank you to them. Full on with foie gras and black truffles but the truffles were integrated not shaved. When done right it is an amazing dish. Very rich and complex. We had a Talbot 86 with it. A good match.

I (with family and friends) have it once in a while during French hunting season. We have to request for it though and give lead time for the restaurant to fly in the ingredients. Price? Well, it’s all part of the game, right?

On a side note, another old recipe that is pretty hot these days and made around xmas time is L’Oreiller de la belle Aurore". A pâté en croûte with a bunch of meats where the challenge is to have them all at each slice.


We’ve had it more times than I can remember. One of my most memorable ones was made by the same chef who made the lièvre à la royale subject of my original post (again, we have to have it on special order because of the ingredients). I had this one made during the hunting season. We just call it “pâté en croûte” though.
We had this particular course with 2 bubblies side-by-side…
…and a red Burg for good measure.
Requesting for dishes like this and the like (e.g., poulet de Bresse, etc.) is easy. The most “difficult” was when I had the Babette’s Feast menu re-created (as closely as possible; but still allowing the chef to put his own mark on the dinner). That took months. Needless to state, the pairing wines were, of course, not of the same vintages as in the movie.